What If… We Have Some Conversations

“I believe an important part of the cure, maybe the most crucial part of it, is to talk to each other.” ~Emmanuel Acho

When I step into the 🏫classroom each day, I am surrounded by people who are not like me. These kids come from backgrounds that are different from mine, extremely different in many cases. Some have siblings or 👩‍👧one parent living in the household. Others have two parents and no siblings. Some live with a few generations. I have kids who have traveled the 🌎world and kids who haven’t left this town- even for a weekend. Some eat at fancy 🍽restaurants while others hope there’s food in the cupboard. Some speak more than one language. Certain kids love working with numbers or 🔬labs. Their friends may prefer the 🏋🏻‍♀️weight room. They’re white and black and brown and mixed. They’re painfully shy and wildly goofy. They’re all different, yet they’re all my students.

When I taught school in Columbia, it was common to have students from all over the 🌎world. With the University of Missouri- home of the 🐯Tigers- in town, families who came to study brought children who attended our schools. Many kids taught lessons about their cultures- complete with tasty treats to share. We were able to see and touch pieces of 🎨art or clothing from faraway parts of the world. Different cultures were embraced and celebrated.

I had students from Nigeria and Spain. From Russia. Italy. England. ☘️Ireland. Portugal. Israel. Pakistan- to name only a few. I even had a sweet girl who came from South Korea. She didn’t know a single word of English. Her parents let her choose an English name to use- Sara. Her real last name was Lee. So, she was our Sara Lee. ☺️I’m not sure if she knew it was also the name of a bakery, but I always loved that name for her. She was adorable and eager to learn all about her new country. She chose her lunch using pictures that other students cut from magazines- 🍔hamburgers, baked potatoes, etc. The students loved teaching her new words almost as much as they loved learning how to say words in her language. It was also pretty cool that her grandfather was featured on a piece of her country’s 💵money.

My current students write ✉️letters to students in Japan through a pen pal project. We watch videos to learn about their town and culture. The students share little details about their daily lives and school. They’ve already learned that they have things in common. 😷Coronavirus, for one!

I feel like it’s part of my job to understand my students. ‼️That means I must learn about them as people first. I’ve always been a believer in teaching the child rather than teaching a subject. They can learn to read and write from lots of people. I hope they get more than that from me.🤗

I also feel that it’s my responsibility as a human to understand people. 💯I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone thinks like I think or acts as I act. I’m also super glad that they don’t! I talk about getting to know people who don’t look or sound like you do. I strive to walk that walk, and- let me tell you this- people are a whole lot of fun!😍

I also preach about reading 📚books to learn, and I have a winner to share with you. UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN by Emmanuel Acho was a Christmas 🎁gift from my youngest daughter. We both prefer non-fiction books over fiction, but this one was right in my lane for another reason. Acho has a series of 💻YouTube videos by the same title. I didn’t really know who he was before that series started last summer. Sure- I knew he played 🏈football for some team and worked as a sports commentator. That was about it. Now- I’ve watched all of the videos and shared many on my Facebook newsfeed. ✅They’re excellent. Don’t just take my word for it. Check them out for yourself. There’s also a fantastic episode of the podcast called Armchair Expert featuring Acho.

When my daughter saw this 📙book on Amazon, she thought I’d love it, and she was right. I recommend it to you because we all need to start somewhere in our quest to learn more about the people who are different from us. ✨Acho writes in a friendly, engaging manner that feels more like talking to an old friend. He answers the ❓questions that many of us have pondered, going back into history and bringing it into today, offering ways to expand your learning. Did you know that long before we had women acting like a Karen that there was a Miss Ann? I didn’t.

There’s a whole lot more to this 🌎world than what’s in our own backyard. What if…we have some conversations? Like I said last week- different ideas aren’t wrong. We have a lot to teach one another! 💝If you don’t know where to begin or who to ask, start somewhere- maybe with this 📙book.💖

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